What is proper running form?

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If you want to make running easier, concentrate on proper running form. First, step gently. Running should not sound or feel like loud thumping, but rather like you're running on a piece of glass and you don't want to shatter it. Doing this will help you use your muscles and not your joints. You should land between your heel and midfoot, then quickly roll forward.

As for stride, experts suggest keeping short strides, with your feet landing directly underneath your body. If your lower leg -- below the knee -- extends out in front of your body, your stride is too long.

Also, watch your posture. You'll run more efficiently -- and sidestep injuries -- with proper form. Keep your shoulders back to prevent slouching, and raise your head to the horizon, so you're not looking down. You're better off slowing your pace and having good form than running faster with poor form.

Relaxing your shoulders and hands helps saves energy, giving you power where you need it -- in your legs and feet. Your arms should be bent at about 90 degrees, with the motion coming from the shoulder, not the forearms.
Proper run form includes a relaxed upper body with the shoulders away from the ears; the elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees. Hands should be relaxed as if holding a delicate object and arms should not cross the midline of the body. There should be a forward lean in the torso originating from the ankles, not the waist. To practice this forward lean posture stand 12 inches from a wall and lean forward. Look in a mirror and make sure that the hips are tucked underneath the body. There should be no sway in the back- which requires an abdominal contraction resulting in a slight posterior pelvic tilt (tilting your pelvis under). The upper body should be slightly in front of the lower body, but an athlete should be able to look down and see their shoelaces in their line of sight. Foot strike should be at the midfoot- not at the heel or the toe. Legs should be relaxed and cadence, or number of foot strikes per minute, should be between 80-90. Runners should think about running relaxed and tall and picking their feet up rather than propelling themselves forward. This increases cadence and maximizes the reactive force of the foot strike. Runners should also practice running quietly and softly. There should not be a loud noise as the runner strikes the ground. Running “easy” and relaxed with proper alignment increases the economy of motion and enables a runner to run faster with less effort.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.